This faith-based football drama (produced by NFL superstar Tim Tebow) takes a look at the importance of family and faith in the midst of challenges. The metaphor of running a race is compared to the spiritual challenge of earning faith, especially during obstacles in life. In the New Testament of the Bible, the apostle Paul compares keeping the faith as fighting the good fight and running a race. In 1 Corinthians 9:24 we read, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.”
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: B-)
I always feel so bad grading Christian movies poorly because I want them to do well at the box office. Unfortunately, this one probably won’t. There wasn’t much advertising for it, so it’ll mostly have to rely on word-of-mouth. It’s not a true story, which would have given it more impact like the film My All American had. Run the Race tries to address complicated issues but preaches only at a surface level. Yes, the gospel of Jesus Christ is simple, but this saccharine sermon probably won’t convince the unbeliever.
The conversion process of a character named Zach was quickly brushed over. It would have been nice to spend more time on that. That would have been the meat of the movie and something that could have provided depth and heft to the film. For many people, it takes a lifetime to build faith. I thought all of Zach’s questions about Christianity were really good. Unfortunately, they weren’t answered in the movie. It made me sad that he was judged for simply having questions. We should never judge one another on the journey we’re taking to find Christ in our lives. Another change that was only lightly addressed was the father/son relationship. While not perfect, everything was happily tied up in a bow at the end.
The good news is that the acting is pretty solid. Tanner Stine and Evan Hofer play brothers who have been abandoned by their alcoholic father after their mother died. The two handsome teens have a sweet relationship and it’s fun to watch their banter and love for each other.
I liked the rap cheer Coach Hailey did for the team to get them riled up for their game in the locker room. The devoted coach is played by Mykelti Williamson. How wonderful to have a role model who really supports teens, even in their personal life. I have four sons who all played sports and I felt very lucky to have one of my son’s coaches be a man like Coach Hailey.
I also liked Frances Fisher’s character who was fiercely loyal to the two brothers and provided them with financial opportunities, spiritual support, and affection. We should all be that kind of Christian, right?
That first game scene really showed the fun and excitement of an American high school football game. Foreign audiences will get a kick out of it.
I’ve never seen so many montages in my life. Some would consider that lazy filmmaking.
IS IT OKAY FOR YOUR KIDS? (PG)
Underage drinking, an adult alcoholic, all frowned upon.
A teen has several seizures on the ground.
One of the teenage boys has a girlfriend, but nothing inappropriate is shown or implied.
ANY WORTHWHILE MESSAGES?
One of the strongest themes of the movie is that we’re all a work in progress. Family, forgiveness, brotherhood, and trusting God are also strong themes. Two characters share a favorite scripture of faith:Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
There are some good lines that are insightful:
“Two steps forward and one step back.” – Paster Baker (played by Mario Van Peebles) says to Louise (Frances Fisher) to which she replies, “As long as we keep moving.”
“I’m not saying his behavior is excusable, but it is forgivable.” – Louise
“What kind of a man walks out on his two sons when his wife dies of cancer?” – Zach
“A broken one.” – Dave
“I know a lot about Jesus, but I don’t know if I really know him.” – Zach
“God loves you. He loves you like crazy.” – Zach (Tanner Stine)
If Run the Race has you in the mood for an excellent football film, Disney's Invincible with Mark Wahlberg is tough to beat. Rent or buy it here.
Trina Boice is an author of 23 books and teaches online for BYU-Idaho in the Pathway program. She received the Young Mother of the Year honor in 2004, an award that completely amuses her 4 sons. She’s a popular international speaker in China and writes movie reviews atwww.MovieReviewMom.com. You can find her books on Amazon, and at www.TrinasBooks.com